A robust, tall-growing species with glossy dark green leaves. Mature leaves are straight and flat, with leaflets tending to droop away from the rachis. Leaflets do not overlap, and are entire or carry 1-2 spines on the margins, and 2-4 basal leaflets reduce to prickles, although leaving some clear petiole. It is thought to be closest to E. transvenosus, which has broader, overlapping leaflets with 3-6 prickles, and E. heenanii, which has shorter trunks, shorter leaves that are held stiffly erect and often twist at the tips, and entire leaflets.

Plants arborescent; stem 6 m tall, 40-70 cm diam.

Leaves 150-250 cm long, dark green, highly glossy, flat (not keeled) in section or reflexed (opposing leaflets inserted at 180° on rachis); rachis yellowish, straight, stiff, not spirally twisted; petiole straight, with no prickles; leaf-base collar not present; basal leaflets not reducing to spines.

Leaflets lanceolate, strongly discolorous, not overlapping, not lobed, insertion angle horizontal to obtuse (45-80°); margins flat; upper margin lightly toothed (1-3 teeth); lower margin lightly toothed (1-3 teeth); median leaflets 15-25 cm long, 20-35 mm wide.

Pollen cones 1-5, ovoid, yellow, 40-60 cm long, 12-15 cm diam.

Seed cones 1-5, ovoid, yellow, 35-50 cm long, 20-25 cm diam.

Seeds oblong, 30-35 mm long, 18-20 mm wide, sarcotesta red.


Distribution & Habitat

Swaziland and South Africa, Mpumalanga Province, in mountain forests with fairly high rainfall. This "close relative of the Modjadji palm, is also found, but never in numbers, in the mountains near Barberton.



Latin pauci, few, and denta, teeth. Described in 1926 by English botanists Otto Stapf and Joseph Burtt Davy.


References & Acknowledgements:

  • Images - Ken Hill
  • Royal Botanic Gardens Sydney



Encephalartos paucidentatus
Encephalartos paucidentatus